My ideal would be that all of my bread is either from fresh ground flour, or a soaked wheat recipe for optimal nutrition. Truth is that I don't have a grain mill, and soaked bread takes 2 days and I'm really good at forgetting to start it. I don't remember exactly where I got this recipe, but it is perfect for when I need bread quickly, as it can be made from start to finish in about 2 hours, minus cooling. I use it for sandwiches, toast, garlic bread, cinnamon bread for French toast, and buns. I've also placed with it at our county fair when I've entered it. If you've not made bread before, this is a great one to start with. (and my apologies for the bad photos, it took me 5 different bakings to get them all. winter lighting.)
Versatile French Bread Recipe
2 c. hot water (I use hot tap water)
2 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. oil (I use light olive)
2 tsp. salt
5 c. all purpose flour OR 3 cups all purpose, 2 cups whole wheat (You may have to play around to get the texture you like doing the flour combo)
Combine the first 5 ingredients and let rest until foamy, 5-10 minutes.
Add flour and mix/knead until the sides of the bowl are clean, about 5 minutes. Some days, I need to add a little extra flour because my dough is sticky.
Cover and let rise until double. I usually leave it in my mixing bowl for this step, but you can transfer to a lightly oiled bowl.
Punch down and cut dough in half. Roll dough out into a rectangle and then roll into a loaf shape starting at the short end.
Tuck ends under.
Transfer to a thoroughly greased cookie sheet and cut 3 diagonal slashes into the top.
Cover and let rise until doubled again. Most of the time, this only takes about 20 minutes, but it can take up to an hour sometimes as well. Just keep an eye on it. When you start this rising period, turn your oven on to begin heating at 400. Just before putting the loaves into the oven, beat together 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of milk, then carefully brush all over the loaves. (I usually put the leftover egg wash in the freezer for the next time)
Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.
If you choose to make buns, just take a piece of dough, roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Continue with slashing, rising and egg wash steps. Check the buns after 10 minutes and bake until golden.